18-unit apartment complex approved for New Haven Avenue

The Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) approved with conditions an 18-unit apartment complex at 690 New Haven Avenue.

The board conducted a public hearing at its Dec. 4 meeting for the plan presented on behalf of 690 New Haven Avenue LLC, which lists Anthony Monaco of Milford as its managing member.  The vote was 7-1 with board member Robert Satti voting against the proposal.

Attorney Kevin Curseaden applied for a special permit and site plan with coastal management area review. The 1.35-acre property is located in the Corridor Design Development District 4 (CDD-4), and has a 1,356-square-foot house built in 1950 on it. There are wetlands behind the property, including a small creek extending back toward the railroad tracks.

According to the plans, there will be six townhouse-style buildings with three units each. There will be five one-bedroom, 10 two-bedroom, and three, three-bedroom units. There will be 21 parking spaces in garages, 21 in driveways, and 10 visitor spots with a total of 52 parking spaces where 49 are required.

The buildings will be located in an AE-11 flood zone and have been designed to elevation 13 feet, which provides two feet of freeboard, or extra height above the base flood elevation of 11 feet.

The Inland-Wetlands Agency (IWA) approved the site plan at its Dec. 20, 2017 meeting, finding that the project “would not have an impact on the physical characteristics of the adjacent wetlands and watercourses.”

The agency included its usual requirements and conditions, plus requiring that fill and debris on the property be removed by hand, and any snow piles that exceed the designated area be removed from the site.

The closest unit will be 38.7 feet from the wetlands. The owner rejected other options, including 23 units under the 8-30g statute, having one multi-story building with 36 units, and the original proposal for 19 units, which was modified based on input from the IWA because one unit would have been 19 feet from the wetlands line.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recommended removal of Building 6 from the plans, due to its potential impact on the nearby wetlands.

In a Sept. 28 letter to the board, DEEP environmental analyst John Gaucher criticized the proposed snow storage areas, saying they, “appear to be insufficient in both area and accessibility” and said these areas are proposed to be landscaped with shrubs and other plantings that “would be significantly harmed by being buried by compacted, heavy snow.”

Gaucher concluded his letter by recommending the removal of Building 6, writing, “Such a change would allow a substantial portion of the existing vegetated buffer to be preserved, create adequate, more convenient and appropriate snow storage areas and eliminate a retaining wall within the coastal flood hazard area.”

Project engineer Ronald Wassmer responded to the DEEP concerns in a Nov. 14 letter to the board in which he wrote that the plans include landscaping and a wetlands mitigation plan. Wassmer said the buffer area will be improved through the removal of invasive plant species and construction debris, and adding shrubs and conservation wildlife plantings.

“The wetlands mitigation plan addresses many of the comments contained in Mr. Gaucher’s letter,” wrote Wassmer.

Wassmer told the IWA on Dec. 20, 2017 that the dumpster has been moved from four feet to 16.5 feet from the wetlands line. Wassmer said a conservation easement has been added to the eastern and northern side to insure that no work could be done in those areas.

The percentage of impervious area will be 40 percent. Storm water from the parking lot will flow through catch basins into a water quality chamber to remove sediments, and will be temporarily stored in underground galleys.

Water from the roof will flow directly into the galleys, which are designed to handle a 25-year storm or 5.6 inches of rain in a 24-hour period.

Wassmer said DEEP regulations require the galleys to hold 1,992 cubic feet of water, and this system would hold 5,964 cubic feet of water. This would reduce the volume of runoff from the site from 7,154 cubic feet of water to 5,746 cubic feet.

In the case of a greater rainfall, water would flow to a level spreader, which is a device intended to minimize erosion by spreading out water over an area to allow it to soak into the soil.

According to Jennifer Beno, biologist and wetlands scientist for the applicant, this proposal would have no direct wetlands impact, as long as various conditions are met.

These conditions include proper installation and maintenance of sediment and erosion controls, not discharging untreated storm water directly into the wetland area, and proper installation and maintenance of buffer enhancement measures, including shrub and tree plantings, and invasive plant species removal.

There are no tidal wetlands on the site, but there are tidal wetlands within 25 feet of the site.